As Spring is now fully upon us, many landowners are out preparing their properties for their upcoming habitat work this year, whether that means converting some cool season grasses to native warm season grasses (NWSG) or prepping the ground for their annual food plot, a lot of habitat management spraying can be done with an ATV Sprayer and your ATV. These days many landowners have an ATV or access to one and getting a good quality ATV sprayer can greatly improve the variety and success of habitat management projects you can conduct on your property, even without having large equipment like a tractor. Below are a few tips on how to have the most success and efficiency while using your ATV sprayer this year.
Buy a good quality sprayer - one that is well built to last for many years - and has an adjustable pressure gauge. Select a sprayer with a good heavy duty handgun that won't bend or break after the first couple uses. A very common ATV sprayer size is a 25-gallon unit that, under normal conditions, allows you to spray up to 2 acres of land using the boom sprayer. This 25-gallon size sprayer also fits well when strapped down to most ATV back racks without overloading the ATV or becoming unstable. The sprayer can run directly off of the ATV battery utilizing the two-wire auxiliary plug on the back of the ATV, therefore eliminating the need for an additional battery to run the sprayer.
Follow the owner's manual of the specific sprayer you have for setting the actual pressure. Keep in mind that it may take some adjustments at first to get the correct pressure for the spray and coverage you want. Many sprayers with the booms out spray a good uniform pattern at about 20 to 30 PSI. If choosing to use the handgun for spot spraying, such as spraying invasive weeds or doing brush control in your grass stands, you may want to set the pressure a bit higher to about 50 to 60 PSI in order to reach longer distances and get better coverage for plants you are trying to spray. Selecting the proper speed with your ATV when spraying with the booms out is also something you will want to adjust depending on the roughness of the terrain and the pressure you selected to spray at, but an average speed of 5 to 7mph is a good common starting point.
Calibrating your sprayer is also very important once you have it set-up and mounted on your ATV to ensure proper coverage of the area your wanting to spray. For further information on calibrating a sprayer, go to MDC's MO Landowner YouTube channel for a video on how this can be accomplished. After your sprayer has been calibrated, it's time to follow the label guidelines for the chemical you are mixing and start spraying the area you have selected to spray. While the booms are deployed, it is always best to overlap your coverage area by about 1 foot to make sure you don't miss any areas. There are also spray dyes available on the market that will help you know where you have sprayed and to keep you from missing too many areas or double spraying the same area multiple times, resulting in wasted herbicide and lost money. Spraying with an ATV sprayer, as with any sprayer, is best performed under lower wind conditions, thus avoiding overspray or missing targeted areas.
So as you can see, with just an ATV and a sprayer, you can get out this spring and conduct a wide variety of habitat management efforts to improve your land at a fraction of the cost of many larger sprayer units, as well as reaching those hard to access confined areas that many larger equipment sprayers can't get to.
For additional habitat tips on selecting the proper herbicides for spraying, and other habitat management practices, be sure to look through several of the past MOre Quail Blog entries.
About the author: Through an agreement between the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation (QUWF) and Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), Nick Prough serves as the Wildlife Partnership Coordinator for Missouri and Chief Wildlife Biologist for QUWF. Before working for QUWF, Nick worked for MDC for over 11 years, 8 of those as a Private Land Conservationist in the Kansas City Region.